Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Leif & Peter Anthony - Playing together in Germany 1977 & 1979

Yesterday I wrote about my sons playing together when they were very young and mentioned how one minute Peter Anthony was trying to keep Leif out of his room, and Leif throwing toys at his door in frustration, and the next minute the two of the playing grand games of imagination together. The second photo, taken in Fuerth, Germany (near Nurnberg) in December 1977 may not have been taken at that exact moment, but it was taken in Peter Anthony's room where they were once again constructing a complex playscape with quite a variety of toys.

It says a lot about Leif's intelligence that he was able to play with Peter Anthony, who was six years older, and a lot about Peter Anthony that he would play with Leif. They each had their own friends, but often chose to spend time together.

In this photo, Leif is not quite three years old and Peter Anthony is days shy of his ninth birthday. Despite their occasional frustrations with each other, I found it quite amazing that a two year-old and an eight-year-old could play imaginatively together using intricate story lines and scenarios.

The photo at the top was taken two years later, in October 1979, when we were living in the German village of Sachsen bei Ansbach. Both boys were attending German schools and by this time were as fluent in German as any of the local kids in the neighborhood and our family was fully bilingual.

Each of them had German friends, Peter Anthony was in an American Cub Scout pack, and the two of them continued to enjoy playing with each other. Peter Anthony was nearly eleven years old and Leif was three months shy of four years old. They were thoroughly engrossed in and indoctrinated by the first Star Wars movie, which came out in May 1977 and you can see that's what they were playing in this picture.

When the boys outgrew those toys, I packed them up and kept them, and now they have been passed on to Peter Anthony's son, Marcus.

There were only a couple of other American kids around in our village, two girls, each the age of one of my sons. Leif and Erin were fast friends, and Peter Anthony occasionally got together with the older girl, but neither of them went to the German schools like our sons did and they didn't speak German.

The summer after the "Star Wars" play photo was taken, we moved to Japan, and there the boys continued their interest in Star Wars but added, as I have written before, an avid interest in the Japanese children's shows on television and the fantastic robot toys that were being produced in Japan at that time.

Some children never learn to play creatively, as our sons discovered when they tried to play that way with other kids, and I was always fascinated to hear them playing with such inventiveness, especially with each other.

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